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Early Thoughts on Alameda Station Area Plan Alternatives

Today the City of Alameda released their report from WRT on alternatives for the Alameda Station Area Plan. Here are some early thoughts on what’s stated in the report:

  • The report lists three alternatives – a Measure A compliant plan, a Transit Enhanced Plan, and a Transit Plus plan. Although the California State Density Bonus Law is never mentioned, it would seem that the Transit Enhanced Plan is compatible with using the density bonus law to leave Measure A unchanged, but provide moderately higher density, and keep the overall number of homes below 2000. The density bonus law is mentioned in the current general plan – why is it not discussed as part of this study?
  • The report re-iterates what WRT told us last year – that public transit begins to work at a density of 12 dwelling units per acre (du/ac). The report goes on to say that “The frequency of service is much more
    effective and economically sustainable when densities are 25 dwelling units/acre or greater.” Measure A supports 22 du/ac, and up to 30 du/ac with the maximum density bonuses permitted under the density bonus law. Once again – why is the density bonus law not discussed?
  • A study release by New York Universitys Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and reported on in the April 25, 2008 San Francisco Chronical says that use of the density bonus law in other San Francisco Bay Area cities is working to provide more affordable housing. Again – why is the density bonus law being ignored?
  • WRT talks about introducing rapid bus services to people from Alameda Point to get people off the island. Do the residents of Chinatown want all those buses exiting the tube and going through their neighborhood? The reason we did this study was in response to a lawsuit from Chinatown residents, who didn’t want cars from Alameda Point going through their neighborhood – so now we replace the cars with buses?
  • The higher-density, 4000 home ‘Transit Plus’ plan that WRT presents doesn’t make a big dent in automobile use – it only moves the needle from 77% for a Measure A compliant plan to 69% for the Transit Plus plan. That’s not a big improvement. But it is consistent with what we already know about transit usage in Alameda – people take their cars.
  • All of the alternatives seem to focus on job creation through building mixed-use with retail and some commercial. What about re-use of the buildings on Alameda Point for light industry? There is light industry using some of the buildings at Alameda Point today which create jobs and re-use buildings. Why is that not covered?
  • The WRT report ignores data Action Alameda uncovered in the MTC Bay Area Travel Survey 2000 (BATS 2000) which revealed that people that work in San Francisco will still take transit to get to San Francisco, even if they live more than 1/2 mile away from the transit node. Why? Because San Francisco is so hard to get to by car. Yet WRT keeps harping on building housing within 1/4 or 1/2 mile of the transit node. Why did WRT not include this point from the BATS 2000 survey in their consideration?
  • City planning and developers need to stop telling the lie that we cannot re-use historic buildings on Alameda Point for housing within a Measure A compliant plan. Chapter XXX Development Regulations of Alameda’s Municipal code, in Article III Multiple Dwelling Units, Section 30-52 Rehabilitation, Remodeling or Alteration of Existing Structures provides that Existing multiple dwelling units may be rehabilitated or remodeled, provided that they comply with the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. No. 2219 N.S.) and that Any interpretation of the term built, as used in Article XXVI of the City Charter, notwithstanding, no building shall be altered to increase the number of multiple dwelling units contained therein. (Ord. No. 2219 N.S.) and that No building which does not contain multiple dwelling units shall be altered in such a way that it contains more than two (2) dwelling units. (Ord. No. 2219 N.S.) – because our City planners are intent on dismantling Measure A, they make no attempt to discuss or highlight these portions of our municipal code which would allow for re-use of the bachelors quarters.

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